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Iraqi Forces Capture Terrorist Cell Leader, Seize Weapons

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2006 – Iraqi security forces captured a terrorist cell leader, found a large roadside bomb before it could be used, and seized a large weapons cache over the last two days, military officials in Baghdad reported today.

Special Iraqi Security Forces, with coalition advisors, captured the leader of a terrorist cell responsible for attacks on Iraqi civilians and security forces during a raid in the Arab A’Jabur area, south of Baghdad, Nov. 15.

The terrorist cell is linked to al Qaeda in Iraq, and is responsible for kidnappings, murder, home invasions, rape, illegal storage of arms and explosives used in attacks, and planting improvised explosive devices and car bombs, officials said.

Iraqi forces conducted a helicopter air assault and detained the terrorist. Operations caused minor damage, officials said, but there were no Iraqi force or coalition force casualties. An Iraqi civilian suffered minor cuts and abrasions during the operation and was treated by coalition force medics.

Yesterday, special Iraqi forces seized a large improvised explosive device and weapons cache inside a mosque during a raid targeting roadside bombers near the Baghdad International Airport.

Coalition troops saw several persons placing an IED, but were unable to capture them before they fled into a nearby mosque compound. Coalition forces cordoned the compound while an Iraqi force with coalition advisors entered the compound, consisting of a mosque and two houses, to look for the men.

Iraqi forces were unable to locate the individuals, but uncovered multiple hidden storage areas containing a large cache of IEDs, weapons and explosives. Weapons and related material were found in the houses, the compound area and in the mosque itself, officials said.

Iraqi forces found two vehicles prepared for use as car bombs, as well as pre-made IEDs and a suicide vest.

Continued search of the compound revealed several anti-tank mines, electrical initiation systems for IEDs, a mortar system and ammunition, several assault rifles and ammunition, several machine guns, pistols and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher and ammunition.

Coalition forces destroyed the two vehicles, along with a moped found to have protruding wiring and munitions hidden within it. An anti-tank mine with anti-handling mechanisms was also destroyed on-site. Coalition forces confiscated the remaining weapons and material.

No IEDs or munitions were destroyed within the mosque itself, officials emphasized, adding that no damage was done to the mosque and that there were no Iraqi civilian, Iraqi forces or coalition forces casualties.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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